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In the Club with: Jeremy Potts

For our ninth episode, we are thrilled to welcome violinist Jeremy Potts!

Tell us about a recent musical experience that you particularly enjoyed.

My string quartet, The Ton Beau Quartet, was scheduled to perform as part of an outdoor concert series in the Toronto Music Garden and when the pandemic hit in March we were anticipating that they would cancel. Much to our surprise, they reached out to us to say that they would go ahead with the series and that they hired a whole audio/video team to make it happen. They coordinated with each of us to drop off individual recording equipment and we recorded our parts separately using a click track. They then edited the sound and synced our video files and in the end we got a really amazing product that sounded as if we were actually playing in the same space together. It was a very time consuming process (people were still trying to figure out how best to do this), but I’m proud of the result and very grateful that they came up with a creative solution to keep us hired!

Who are some composers or ensembles you’ve been enjoying listening to lately?

It’s quite rare for me to go out of my way to listen to classical music during my free time, but I did recently come across an incredible album released this year of Marin Marais’ works for viola da gamba and harpsichord (performed by Melisandre Corriveau and Eric Milnes) - the sound production is phenomenal! Otherwise, I make an effort to listen to as wide a variety of music as possible. There is a label called the Numero Group (you can follow them on Spotify) and they have a ton of very well-curated playlists that I’ve been listening to, from eclectic 60’s soul to late 80’s punk and grunge and everything in between. I also have a soft spot for metal and have been loving the singles that have been released by Unleash the Archers from their new album “Abyss” - incredibly powerful and epic music!

Are there any trends in the Canadian music scene that you’re particularly excited about?

Toronto is an incredibly diverse city (over 180 languages are spoken here) and I find that this diversity is often reflected and celebrated in the new music scene. In many of the works I’ve performed and listened to I find that very often it is the composer’s desire to explore either highly personal events in their lives or the facets of their unique and often complex cultural identity that drives the creative process. It may be an oversimplification, but I believe this is quickly becoming a prominent and defining feature of Canadian new music.

Musicians across the board are facing difficult times in this pandemic. Has there been anything positive that has come out of this time for you?

It was very challenging at first to have such a drastic change in schedule but I quickly learned to accept it and use the extra time to my advantage. Having less external musical demands has allowed me to take the time to revisit and improve elements of my technique and finally tackle pieces that have been on my to-do list for years (Brahms and Sibelius concertos!). I have been exercising much more consistently (the Nike training app is a godsend), cooking, reconnecting with family and friends and really thinking deeply about my future goals, musical and otherwise. Spending more time with my wife and dog has also been wonderful and great for my mental health.

Outside of music, what are some other types of art, media, or entertainment you particularly enjoy?

I love art and sculpture - I find it fascinating to learn about the artistic process for those outside of the music profession and I draw lots of inspiration from it. In terms of entertainment, nothing beats watching live sports for me (especially hockey). It was tough not being able to watch any for a few months, but I’m glad they found a way to bring it back!

Thanks for joining us, Jeremy!

A native of Vancouver Island, Jeremy has been rapidly building acclaim as a soloist, orchestral and chamber musician in Toronto and abroad. Solo engagements have included a performance of Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy with the Vancouver Island Symphony and a featured guest artist performance at the Montreal Chamber Music Festival. Continually seeking to improve his craft, Jeremy has participated in many internationally renowned music festivals including the Banff Center Masterclasses, Orford Summer Music Academy, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, and the prestigious Mozarteum Summer Music Academy in Salzburg, Austria. 

Jeremy’s passion for the contemporary repertoire has led him to work with composers from across the United States and Canada. Highlights include the premiere of Louise, a commissioned piece for violin and guitar by Joel David Balzun, and a performance of André Previn’s Octet for Eleven at the Eastman School of Music, for which the composer was in attendance. Jeremy has also collaborated with Pulitzer Prize winning composer John Luther Adams, performing The Light That Fills the World at the Banff Centre for the Arts, and performed as the violinist for Music in the American Wild, a contemporary septet which performed ten commissioned works throughout United States National Parks. 

As an avid orchestral musician, Jeremy performs regularly with the National Ballet of Canada and has previously performed with the  Rochester Philharmonic, Victoria Symphony, Vancouver Island Symphony, the Galiano String Ensemble, the New York City based Shattered Glass Ensemble. He is currently a member of the Toronto based Ton Beau String Quartet, which continually seeks to perform music written by women and ethnic minorities. Jeremy holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Victoria and a Masters Degree in Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. 

Photos by Danielle Sum -

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